Friday, December 31, 2010
I'm a numbers person. Most people get upset with the church because they think that clergy only want more numbers - people and money. And I'll let you in on a little secret. We do. We want more people and more money. They are major factors in helping to transform the world - but that's not all we want and that's a blog for a different day.
Todays blog is about the numbers from 2010. It helps me to look at things this way so that I can make 2011 even better. So here's my recap.
30,000 - number of miles I put on my cars for the sake of ministry
2 - number of churches that I can now add as blessings in my life
200 - number of new facebook friends
10 - number of pounds I lost and regained
30 - number of youth that went on confirmation retreats from my churches
1 - number of years my oldest son has left at elementary school
34 - number of blog posts
200 - number of kids at VBS
5 - number of trips I took to the emergency room
3 - number of scars I now have on my body
200 - number of sheets of paper I had to print to turn into the Board of Ordained Ministry
1 - number of times I was happy about wearing red and black in Athens
12 - number of dates I went on with my husband
100 - number of birthday candles that we blew out at our house this year
1 - number of new cars
2 - number of trips to the beach
countless - number of times I really messed up
countless - number of times I've received God's grace
So all in all it was good year. I'm still here. I've got a great family and great jobs.
What's in store for 2011? More of the good stuff. And its all good stuff.
Happy New Year,
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Pride is one of those things that confuses me. Biblically it sounds like a bad thing and I can see why if your pride is about yourself to the extent that you seem full of it.
But sometimes I am so filled with pride for my kids, my churches, or my friends that I just want to explode with joy. And I don't think that feeling pride by seeing God at work in others is a bad thing.
So last week at one of my churches (The Well) we hosted a Night in Bethlehem for the community. We transformed our worship space into a first century market. Families were able to taste, touch, smell, and hear what it was like to live during that time. We had llamas walking through the sanctuary. Hay ALL OVER the floor. Items from a Jewish temple. An apothecary complete with frankincense and myrrh. And at the very end we told the story of the nativity in a beautiful way. I was proud at all the hard work that our people put into it and excited to see the Bible come to life for some people for the first time.
My oldest son came with me to help. He's 10 and has recently become interested in coming to the church with me "anytime its open mom". My scheduled apothecary helper was ill so I told him he could help me. As we begin, he tells me that he can only help me a little bit because he's supposed to be a shepherd.
As we finish up with our markets and the nativity is starting and I look around for John. I think that he's probably off playing with someone and I think that its too bad he'll miss this live nativity. Then I see a bright light shining near the stage and there's John dressed as a shepherd. I think "Oh that's what he meant by being a shepherd!"
As exciting as it is for someone to see the nativity come to life, I've seen it before. I've read the book. I know the story. But this year it came back to life for me. I was able to think of a shepherd boy's mom and how proud she might have been to know that her son was one of the first to see baby Jesus and wish him blessings in his life on earth.
I was a proud mama that night and I still am. Not just because I got to see my son on stage, but because I've been able to give him teachable moments about God. I'm able to serve at churches that help others experience the Christmas story in creative and powerful ways.
I hope you can feel pride as you see God in others.
Until Everyone Hears,
Rev. Shannon Karafanda
Usually the week after Christmas is down time for most clergy. After all the prep to make sure that people are able to spiritually celebrate Christmas, plus the stress of making sure that Christmas with our family is special, we are dead dog tired.
I'm already kind of there now but I'm still excited about Christmas and waking up on Christmas morning to see the joy on my kids faces as they see what we've given them.
I love this time of year because I get to give back to my kids without feeling like I'm spoiling them.
Of course, in reality, I probably am spoiling them. We are blessed with so much while other have so little.
So instead of taking next week as a week off, I'm assisting one of my churches (Sacred Tapestry) in a mission week. I don't suggest this for most pastors (especially lead pastors that really do need the break), but if someone in your church can lead this - its a great idea!
Starting on Sunday, Dec 26 we have a different mission activity each day. We're going to make soup kits for the food bank, gather canned goods, sort at the Atlanta Community food bank, landscape at the United Methodist Children's Home, cook and serve at Nicholas House, and gather pet food for the Humane Society.
I'm happy to have something to look forward to next week and it warms my heart that I'll be able to keep the warm fuzzy feelings of Christmas going for at least one week more as I can continue to be the giver that God wants us to be.
If you can join us, we'd love to have you!
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